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Hoard of the Dragon Queen features a cult whose leaders wear purple robes, but even though the adventure presents that as an important character detail, I can’t figure out from the text which characters are actually robe-wearing leaders.

The overview of the cult in the adventure preface mentions that leaders wear the robes but the cult otherwise has no clear hierarchy. A sidebar in Episode 2 mentions the robes again, but this time also describes a hierarchy of cultists, apparently contradicting the first description. The “Prisoners” mission in Episode 1 suggests that the PCs might encounter a robe-wearing cultist other than the named NPC leading the attack, but not how or where. All of this contradictory information has left me very confused as to whether any of the many unnamed cultists also wear purple robes, and if so who.

The part that confuses me most is the “Prisoners” mission. Its exact wording gives me the impression that there’s more than one purple robe in Greenest, and the players may have encountered one:

If the characters haven’t run into any cult leaders yet, Nighthill takes them onto the parapet and points out what he means. This is an ideal time for everyone to catch a glimpse of [the enemy leader].

Because there’s no clear mention of the robes anywhere else in Greenest, it’s not clear how or where the players would’ve seen one. The enemy leader doesn’t appear in any of the other missions or random encounters, and there’s not enough information given about her to guess where else she might be. All this makes me wonder if there’s more robes than the one explicitly mentioned – perhaps the highest-ranking cultist in the “Sanctuary” mission?

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Okay, I think I understand the confusion, but I hope I can clear it up for you.

As stated in the sidebar on Chapter 2: wyrmspeakers are all Wearers of Purple. That's the upper-most group in the cult. That same line says that wyrmspeakers can appoint other cultist to preside over cult enclaves, making those appointees also Wearers of Purple.

Going back to the Preface, it says there are no formals grades within the ranks of Wearers of Purple. Presumably that means that to your everyday cultist from initiate up, whether a Wearer of Purple was a dragonclaw (lowest-rank cultist) or a dragonsoul (just under wyrmspeakers), you have to treat them like they were a wyrmspeaker. In other words, Wearers of Purple are essentially the hands and voice of the wyrmspeaker themselves when the wyrmspeakers cannot be physically present.

The Prisoners mission simply says that that mission provides an excellent time to introduce players to the Wearers of Purple through a glimpse of Frulam Mondath, but you could have introduced her on one of the other missions.

Edit: There is also Langdedrosa Cyanwrath somewhere about town. While never explicitly named as a Wearer of Purple, he has enough pull within the cult to release prisoners, his own personal troop of followers, is rumored to be Mondath's right-hand man, and is pictured in purple on page 17. So a DM could have Cyanwrath be the example Wearer of Purple the party first spots. Regardless none should actually be encountered until the end of the chapter, where the party will meet Cyanwrath.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @BraddSzonye, 'encounter' probably is too strong a word for any interaction between the players and the Wearers of Purple. Just like in Prisoner, a DM running the campaign could have players catch glimpses of Frulam while running the Save the Mill mission or the Sanctuary missing, for example. Her motives and location are left unanswered so the DM can put her wherever he feels best. Also, from his picture on page 17, Langdedrosa Cyanwrath is also a Wearer of Purple and around town somewhere. However, he should be the only one encountered in Greenrest, and then just before the end of the part1. \$\endgroup\$ – Brian_Drozd Oct 28 '14 at 23:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ It is never stated outright, however consider that Cyanwrath has enough pull to let four prisoners go, has his own retainers within the cult, and he is listed (well, rumored at least) as Mondath's right hand man, so your DM may decide either way. \$\endgroup\$ – Brian_Drozd Oct 29 '14 at 0:24
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The Wearers of Purple are the only ones that wear purple robes, and the only available Wearer of Purple in Episode 1 is Mardath, as others have said. The beginning of the Prisoners section referenced says this:

If the characters haven’t run into any cult leaders yet, Nighthill takes them onto the parapet and points out what he means. This is an ideal time for everyone to catch a glimpse of Frulam Mondath[.]

While this may seem to imply that there are other, unnamed Wearers of Purple walking around, the book is actually giving you the flexibility to allow your players to somehow end up seeing Mondath beforehand, perhaps in the streets. If you do allow them to see Mondath beforehand, then the module is just saying to not have Nighthill take them to the parapet to point him out, as the players already know what he looks like.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the substantial edit! I suppose the players could have also encountered cult leaders outside of Greenest if they have an appropriate background or previous experience. I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I was overlooking something. +1 \$\endgroup\$ – Bradd Szonye Oct 28 '14 at 22:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ By the way, this is exactly how I played it when I ran the episode, although I was really confused when I came to the dragonclaw cultist in “Sanctuary” and thought maybe he was supposed to be a Wearer of Purple too. \$\endgroup\$ – Bradd Szonye Oct 28 '14 at 22:12
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All cult leaders wear the purple robe, though the only one explicitly mentioned in Episode 1 is Frulam Mondath.

I asked this question in chat a few weeks ago, because I had your same confusion (in reference to the same passage you mention). Other than Mondath, there aren't any other such leaders available to interrogate in Episode 1--only regular cultists.

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